Gig Review: A First-Time Experience Of Manchester Punk Festival

Mark overcame anxiety to pop his MPF cherry, celebrating with Kermes, Charmpit, Big Joanie, Incisions, Fastfade, Burnt Tapes and more.

Although there will be reviews aplenty, at Shout Louder we want to offer two unique perspectives on the fifth year of Manchester Punk Festival. Sarah Williams is an MPF veteran who volunteers at the event, who’ll be giving us a behind-the-scenes perspective, whereas Mark Bartlett’s has given us his highlights as an MPF first timer. In this article, Mark explores his nerves about attending alone, and why the effort was worthwhile.

Here are some thoughts about my first ever trip to the Manchester Punk Festival over the long Easter bank holiday weekend.

My first ever MPF can only be described as a completely heartening, life nourishing experience, which was briefly prodded by the occasional anxious freak out.

By the time the weekend was done, my notions of what punk is or isn’t was challenged by the massive breadth of genre variety on offer. Ultimately, I felt that the living spirit of punk rock is the ethos, outlook, morality and community of the few thousand individuals who make this annual pilgrimage.

MPF Incisions cred Josh Sumner 2.jpg
Incisions @ Gorilla. Photo: Josh Sumner

I fully expected to feel awkward a lot of the time. I’m a real loud mouth once I get to know a person properly, but alone I’m very shy around strangers, and that’s further exacerbated when I’m around people who I think are talented (no shortage of that here). I naturally assume that people dislike me and in groups I always feel very visible and awkward. It’s a behaviour I have to work quite hard to deprogram myself of.

If I’d had somebody to go with, I would have loved to have come to any previous MPF, but the general feeling of being lonesome and weird was insurmountable. Last year, I felt the pangs of jealously having heard about all the fun everybody had, and I was resolved to go no matter what, come rain or shine. Luckily for all of us, the weather was completely glorious and, even as a solo traveller, I didn’t feel alone for any significant portion of my weekend. Honestly, I was surprised to find out that so many people I met have so many of the same social hang ups. I enjoyed the weekend from a social perspective every bit as much as what was on offer musically. It’s a brilliant atmosphere and it was great to finally get the chance to meet some long term social media pals in the flesh, as well as catching up with some old friends. Continue reading “Gig Review: A First-Time Experience Of Manchester Punk Festival”

Top 10 Bands To Discover At Manchester Punk Festival 2019

Excited for MPF 2019? Here are our top picks from this year’s stunning line-up.

Article by Sarah Williams. Read all our MPF2019 articles.

Over five years, Manchester Punk Festival has flourished and become one of the biggest and best festivals Europe has to offer.

For me personally, MPF is a bigger event in my calendar than Christmas. I enjoyed the first three years of the festival so much that I decided to move to Manchester, because it has the most active, welcoming and diverse punk rock scene in the country. I’ve since had the privilege of volunteering at the festival, writing articles for their programme and website, and seeing first-hand the love, stress and dedication that the organisers pour into the event every year.

This year I’m also ‘performing’ at the festival. Come and join us in Font Bar @ 12:30 Friday to watch a live recording of the Shout Louder podcast. I’ll be talking about mental health in music, with Lucias of Call Me Malcolm and Holly from Hell Hath No Fury Records.

With 138 acts at this year’s Manchester Punk Festival, you’re spoilt for choice. These are the 10 I’m looking forward to the most.

Wolfrik

Wolfrik are a recent Lockjaw Records discovery – these guys crank out fiery melodic thrash, with a huge metal/classic rock edge that’s insanely fun to listen to. Knowing the incendiary effect their Skeleton City EP’s had on everyone who’s heard it, I’m excited to see the impact it’ll have on a keen live audience.

Svalbard

I’ve not managed to catch Svalbard live yet, although their 2018 album It’s Hard to Have Hope was one of my favourites of last year. They’re well known in the metal scene, however they’re also an ideal fit for fans of dark, furious hardcore punk. Lyrically tackling feminism and politics and writing soaring Counterparts-esque guitar parts has made front-woman Serena Cherry one of my personal musical heroes. I’m looking forward to an intense, earth-shattering live show.

Continue reading “Top 10 Bands To Discover At Manchester Punk Festival 2019”

Top 10 Live Bands That Blew Us Away in 2018

There’s nothing more exciting than live music and these are the best of the best.

Written by Sarah Williams.

A phrase that’s been whispered in the dark corners of venues this year is that we’re onto something big. We look back upon golden ages when underground scenes were thriving, like the late 90’s Household Name days, but there’s been a tangible undercurrent of something unique and special in 2018 that’s convinced me that we might be in the middle of one of those golden eras. I cannot begin to describe the feeling I get at a gig when I’m surrounded by friends and enjoying a band I love; there’s an electricity and a sense of community that cannot be rivalled.

Although we all bang on about our Top 10 Albums at this time of the year, I think live music is much more essential than the recorded variety. It’s live shows where you get to spit and scream and sweat with your fellow punks. You meet likeminded people, enjoy the bands you love and discover new ones. Live shows are the most essential part of our scene and our primary goal at Shout Louder has always been to get more people to go and support their local bands, venues and promoters.

I have seen an lot number of incredible bands this year, but here are the acts that really stood out. Go check them out in 2019.

Mad Caddies Punk Rock Holiday cred Silvy Maatman
Mad Caddies @ Punk Rock Holiday 1.8. Cred: Silvy Maatman

#10: Mad Caddies

I’ve caught Mad Caddies quite a few times in the past and, although I like them, I can’t say I’m their biggest fan. Perhaps as a result, I was absolutely blown away by them this year. Continue reading “Top 10 Live Bands That Blew Us Away in 2018”

Four Days Following A Wilhelm Scream On Tour [Column]

Sarah spent a long weekend following melodic hardcore legends, A Wilhelm Scream, on their UK tour with Darko. This is her personal account of the sweatiest weekend of the year.

Article by Sarah Williams. Images from Cold Front Photography, taken at The Star & Garter, Manchester.

It’s sweltering. I’m screaming. There’s a crush of bodies all around me, elbows and fists and softer parts, heaving and desperately scrabbling for space. Every surface is slick with sweat. I turn around just in time to catch a boot to the face, as singer Nuno Pereira is hoisted above the pit, trailing the mic cable, still belting the lyrics out.

He circles above the crowd before being gently propped back onto the the stage, where he immediately bounces back to scream out the chorus. I’m crushed against the edge of the stage and, when I look up, he’s literally dripping a waterfall of sweat straight on to all of us in the front row.

A Wilhelm Scream Live Manchester cred Josh Sumner 3.jpg

It’s the longest, hottest day of the year, and the air feels ripe with anticipation for the chaos that A Wilhelm Scream bring on tour with them, unleashing raw, unbridled energy on stage every single night. This 5-piece melodic hardcore whirlwind have journeyed from their hometown in New Bedford, Massachusetts for a month-long tour, beginning with 7 dates in the UK with Shout Louder faves Darko.

I’ve been known to go to absurd lengths for the love of punk rock and this weekend will be no exception. Taking every chance to see one of the world’s most incendiary live bands, I decided to catch them in Manchester, Norwich, London and Stafford. Fortunately, I managed to convince Tree (of MPF/Anarchistic Undertones fame) to join me, so I wasn’t alone for the ride.

A Wilhelm Scream Live Manchester cred Josh Sumner 7.jpg

Friday: Manchester

Manchester’s show at the Star & Garter is unquestionably the best gig I’ve been to this year (and I’ve seen Propagandhi twice). Perhaps it’s the intense heat. Perhaps it’s the crush of friends at the front. Perhaps it’s the insanely good performance from one of my all time favourite bands…  or perhaps it was the excitement of knowing I get to do it all again for the next three days. Continue reading “Four Days Following A Wilhelm Scream On Tour [Column]”

Shout Louder’s June 2018 Playlist

Listen to our Spotify playlist for all of June’s hottest tunes!

The whole team at Shout Louder is addicted to music, whether that’s live, on record or just sung badly in the shower. There’s not enough time in the world to review every record we love, so we’re going to share a monthly Spotify playlist with you.

Enjoy this month’s selection of tunes – featuring many of the bands we’ll be catching live this month. Here’s what we’re listening to:

 

Festival Review: Dugstock 2 @ New Cross Inn, London [30/03 – 01/04/2018]

Umlaut Recond second annual showcase weekedender was a blast, with bands like Counterpunch, The Murderburgers and Crazy Arm.

Review by Sarah Williams.

What better way to while away a long Easter weekend than an indoor music festival with all your mates? The second iteration of Umlaut Records’ Dugstock festival is a diverse three-day line-up hosted at London’s New Cross Inn. Umlaut Records is a rapidly growing independent label that are integral to the London punk scene. They’re only in their second year so, if this is the sort of line-up they can pull off now, I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us in future.

I’ve been to plenty of gigs at New Cross, but this is the first time I’ve committed to three whole days, staying in the hostel above the venue. As I’m likely to be doing the same for Level Up and Polite Riot festivals later this year, I’m almost as keen to test out this festival-formula as I am to see the bands.

Shout Louder Crew At Dugstock 2 Cocktails
Some braincells were damaged in the making of this review.

Friday

Opening the weekend are Dirty White, a 3-piece that take influence from 90’s stoner grunge bands, although they bring the songs into a cleaner, more modern relief. The singer pulls off a Chris Cornell style that you don’t often hear. They go on to mix in some faster melodic punk songs – a gentle introduction to the weekend’s festivities.

There is already a reasonably good turnout for the Friday night, with a lot of hugs and catch-up chats exchanged. Things properly kick off with Dark Days, who provide vigorous, fun, melodic poppy punk. Guitarist, John Huffman, gets told off by the sound engineer for standing on the drum kit, so he capitulates and pulls out a high stool from the bar to stand on, before flaunting rock-star poses and writhing on the floor. Their sound contains a melee of references to current North American melodic punk bands, with an added dose of Kathleen Hanna inspired harmonies and a fuzzy, experimental guitar mess. They play a full-throttle cover of Nirvana’s Breed – the first of two Breed covers we’ll hear this weekend.

Kiss Me, Killer swagger on stage with a sexy, balls-to-the-wall riot grrl energy. Singer, Holly, steals the show somewhat as she cavorts wildly around the stage, as the band rages. She’s an excellent rock vocalist, which suits the hard-rock element in their sound It’s ferocious noise peppered with short bursts of rock ‘n’ roll guitar solos and enticingly sleazy bass lines. It’s infinitely dance-able from Rat Race to It’s Going Down (which actually sets off an alarm somewhere in the venue). As my friend eloquently shouts at me during the set, it’s also a pleasure to see, “Plentiful vaginas on stage.” Continue reading “Festival Review: Dugstock 2 @ New Cross Inn, London [30/03 – 01/04/2018]”

EAT DIRT: Shaking Up The Scene [Interview]

EAT DIRT are the latest London riot, taking no prisoners as they sweep through the city. Sarah spoke to vocalist Ben Mills to their future and their unique style.

Interview by Sarah Williams.

Meet EAT DIRT. As their all-caps moniker suggests, they’re going to shout until you take notice, so jump on this bandwagon as early as you can. This unusual quintet are the latest storm to shake the music venues of London.

In the flesh they’re a raucous bunch, unable to stay on stage and choosing instead to get up close and personal with their audiences. They’ve taken a dose of their riotous live performance and injected it into their new EP Welcome to Shithouse-On-Sea, which was released on Umlaut Records on April 27th. It’s four punk rock tracks that are short but nonetheless memorable, like getting punched in the face by a beautiful woman in a dream. Musically, I hear it as sleazy rock ‘n’ roll with a hint of 80’s metal, but their ballsy attitude is 100% punk.

There is a lot more to these guys than just the music. They have their own scrappy, hilarious podcast and their own YouTube channel. We’ve been watching them tear the scene to pieces for months, so we took the chance to speak to vocalist Ben Mills to learn more.

How did Eat Dirt come about? You’ve all been in multiple bands previously – tell us a bit about your earlier musical endeavours as well.

Myself and Richie have known each other since Hevy Fest 2012, we met before I went on stage with my then band The Smoking Hearts. Also Dai our guitarist played the day before in his band at the time Adelaide, I’d met Dai in Luton in like 2010 when we played with each other. Richie and myself started a side project called Dead Beat, with a few friends, one of which is our new bass player Joey Black (Shortcuts, Angst, BodyHeat). Any way I was taking a break from music from 2014 – 2017 after touring relentlessly across the world from 2010 – 2014. One day I heard the PearsGreen Star album, and I asked Richie if we wanted to start a band in that vein. Then we wrote EP 1 over email, drafted in some old friends from bands and started playing shows.

Ballad has the most perfect 7 seconds of any song ever in the chorus. Have you considered a second careers as 80 power-ballad masters?

What bit do you mean? The bit where me and Richie harmonise beautifully without any help from computer programming? Yeah, that was the second chorus for Ballad and it’s my favourite chorus I’ve ever written ever. Would love to incorporate those pop punky sing along bits in the next record.

You guys take a much more confident approach to a lot of the bands in the current DIY scene. Who do you take the most influence from?

I’ve learnt from years touring the toilet venues around the country and the world that you have to make an impression. It’s important to be remembered and to leave your mark. But I take a lot of influence from the likes of Davey Havoc, Fat Mike, Greg Puciato, and I spent a lot of time as a teenager in the UKHC scene so that up-close-and-personal, high energy performance attitude. I like to leave it all out there, if I don’t finish the set covered in sweat and gasping for breath I haven’t given it my all. Continue reading “EAT DIRT: Shaking Up The Scene [Interview]”